Shakespeare’s heartbreaking tale is told impeccably through the English National Ballet’s production of Romeo and Juliet, it is a commanding performance exuding the intensity and intimacy of forbidden love.
Set in Renaissance Verona, the staging reflects the timelessness of the piece and the dim lighting creates a dark and tense atmosphere as the audience are taken back to where the story began, the Capulets and Montagues at war.
Using Rudolph Nureyev’s choreography, created for the company in 1977, Romeo and Juliet sticks to the classical elements of ballet. The English National Ballet Philharmonic conducted by Gavin Sutherland are outstanding, the balance is immaculate throughout the whole of the ballet, mirroring the poignancy of the dancers as their raw emotion is evident through their movement.
The opening fight scene between the Montague’s and Capulets conveys the extremity of the opposing tensions, Nureyev manages to choreograph a fight scene with enough conviction whilst still maintaining a poetic shadow over the scene. Despite injecting different styles of dance into the production, the expressive nature of ballet is never lost.
The production has an abundance of substance, a highlight being the ensemble ballroom scene. Whilst dressed in lavish deep red gowns the Capulets dance forcefully creating a sense of disquietude over the performance.
Alina Cojocaru captures the role of young and innocent Juliet beautifully, she moves across the stage gracefully and so naturally encapsulating the naivety of Juliet. She moves with precision, each perfect line of her arabesque appears effortless and every pulse of the music is echoed in her movement, she truly connects to both the character and the score.
Romeo is played by Isaac Hernández, an astounding dancer who manages to illustrate the perfect balance of Romeo’s impulsiveness and shy love-struck persona. I could feel the intensity of his emotion as he moved so powerfully, he provides a highly moving performance.
The connection between Hernández and Cojocaru is one of the most convincing I’ve ever seen on stage. During the seven-minute-long balcony scene the potency of their passion seeps through each movement, every time they draw close their romantic tension becomes almost palpable. This build up of emotion means the treacherous final scene is harrowingly sad, many tears were shed in the audience last night.
Romeo and Juliet is a heart-rending ballet immersed with deep passionate emotion.
On at the Palace Theatre until the 28th of November and tickets are available here.